Delaware County Court Judge Carl F. Becker will retire from his post as the county's top judicial officer on July 31, fewer than three years into his second ten-year term, according to a press release Becker sent to the Watershed Post on Monday, May 4.
Left: Judge Carl F. Becker.
Becker announced his decision to retire to his court on Friday, May 1, according to the emailed statement.
"It has been a great privilege and honor to serve the people of Delaware County as Delaware County Judge, and more recently, as an Acting Supreme Court Justice," Becker wrote. "I will be forever grateful to my colleagues and co-workers who have served with me in the Court system. I am particularly grateful to the professionals in the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment community, the Delaware County Probation Department, and the members of the Delaware County Board of Supervisors, without whose continuing support the Delaware County Drug Court and Family Treatment Court would not be possible. I, most humbly, want to thank the people of Delaware County for allowing me to have the best seat in the house for the past twelve years."
In his statement, Becker did not cite a reason for his retirement, but he ruled out health reasons as a possible cause.
"I have been blessed with a loving family and good health and will soon have the opportunity to more fully enjoy both," he wrote.
In an interview on May 5, 2015, Becker said that he made the decision to retire when he got the news that his daughter, who is pregnant with his second grandchild, will soon move to Australia with her family.
Becker has served as the Delaware County Judge for 12 years. He was elected to the position in 2002 after working for 28 years as an attorney in the Delaware County Department of Social Services, representing the county in family court cases.
In 2012, after his first ten-year term, Becker ran a heated race for re-election against challenger Gary Rosa, a Middletown judge, and won only by razor-thin margin of 190 votes. As Becker was campaigning to keep his seat, he told the Watershed Post in an interview that he would have to retire before he turned 70, the mandatory retirement age for judges, in 2018.
Sources disagree about how a successor will be chosen to fill Becker's role as Delaware County Judge.
After Becker's departure in July, New York's governor may appoint an interim judge to his seat until an election can be held to replace him, according to the procedures for county court judicial succession outlined in New York State's Constitution (article 6, section 21a). (That is the process that Gary Rosa, Becker's opponent in 2012, described in a 2012 interview, which I paraphrased in an earlier version of this story.)
If the vacancy occurs more than 90 days before a general election, then a new judge will be elected for a full term during that election.
But Becker said that he does not expect an interim replacement to be appointed to his seat. Instead, he said today that he expects that judges from other counties will take on Delaware County's caseload in the three months between his retirement and the general election that will be held this November, where his seat will be up for grabs.
"I'll do some hearing officer stuff, and my expectation is that we’ll do what we’ve done in the past, with other judges being assigned in here," Becker said.
Hours after news of Becker's retirement broke on Tuesday, Delaware County District Attorney Richard D. Northrup made his own announcement: that he will be running for Becker's vacant seat in the general election in November.
Northrup has served as Delaware County's DA for 19 years. In a press release, he wrote that he has prosecuted "several thousand felony cases," has conducted "hundreds of trials" and plans to run an "honorable yet aggressive campaign."
This story has been updated with new information. - Ed.